By Alyson Tuck
When Ed Stack (B.S.,Textile Management ‘92) reflects on the influences that shaped him, three rise to the top: his mom, his dad and NC State. As a high school student in rural Rowan County, NC, Stack craved a future that took him anywhere but the local textile mills. For him, that meant being the first person in his family to go to college. As fate would have it, the NC State recruiters who showed up at South Rowan High School were from the Wilson College of Textiles. Stack was sold on NC State from the first encounter.
Stack, now vice president of administration and development for Jarrett Bay Boatworks in Beaufort, N.C., looks back at his days at NC State as the beginning of everything. In those four years he would make connections and develop friendships that would impact every corner of his life. His friends, his career path and even his wife are all linked to his days at NC State.
“Everything that I’ve done since I was 18, I owe back to NC State,” Stack said. “NC State is entwined in who I am.”
Building a Network
Stack arrived at the Wilson College of Textiles in the fall of 1987 as a small-town kid struggling not to be overwhelmed by a large university in a big city. He searched for a place to call home.
“The Wilson College of Textiles was the first place I found that niche,” Stack said. “The smallness of the college helped me overcome the largeness of NC State. The College does a great job of helping people — particularly rural kids whose parents didn’t have a college experience — to find their niche.”
In the classroom, Stack was taking classes in Textile Management and soaking up tremendous opportunities to meet corporate giants from across the textile industry who visited the College. Stack, a gregarious student with a natural tendency to get involved, began making connections inside and outside of the College. At the invitation of some Textiles friends he joined a fraternity, Delta Sigma Phi, which gave Stack a support network that would help him through his college years and beyond.
With his close-knit College family behind him, Stack began to thrive as a campus leader. He was elected freshman representative to the Wilson College of Textiles Student Council and got his first taste of university student leadership. Stack eventually took his enthusiasm and talent for student government to the university level and became one of few in NC State’s history to serve as student body president twice.
“The experiences that you get as student body president are unparalleled for a student,” Stack said.
Looking back, he attributes his career success, in part, to his days as student body president, where he learned to take a seat at the table with highly successful and influential people. Open access to the faculty senate and deans, plus direct contact with the chancellor and board of trustees, trained him to overcome his star-struck tendencies and become comfortable in powerful company. As he graduated from NC State, Stack took these skills and network of connections with him.
The Wolfpack Career Connection
On paper, Stack’s career path is hard to explain. The common thread tying it together is the Wolfpack connection. Every job Stack has held since college has been a direct result of the relationships he formed through NC State, he explained.
When Stack graduated from NC State in 1992, his textile management background and leadership experience landed him a position with Sara Lee’s management training program. Stack started out in Galax, VA, where he learned the manufacturing process from the time the bale of cotton entered the plant to when the packaged t-shirt shipped out to the marketplace. After completing the management training program, he began happily moving up the ladder with Sara Lee.
Stack wasn’t looking for a career change when the Wolfpack Club’s Bobby Purcell, a friend from Stack’s days in student government, called him up about a job opportunity. Purcell offered Stack a fundraising position with the Wolfpack Club, and Stack packed his bags and headed to Raleigh. For a Wolfpack fan who once said he would trade his role as student body president for a spot on the football team, athletics fundraising was a dream job for Stack.
“How many guys who love sports get the opportunity to sit in a car with the head football coach for days on end and talk about sports and life?” Stack said.
Over his nearly 16 years with the Wolfpack Club, Stack rose to the position of associate executive director and had a range of responsibilities, from fundraising to nearly every aspect of the Carter-Finley Stadium expansion. Through it all, Stack was nurturing his old NC State connections and making new ones.
When opportunity knocked again, Stack tried to ignore it. Randy Ramsey, owner of Jarrett Bay Boatworks, and a board member of the Wolfpack Club, was looking to expand his leadership team as his company grew in new directions, and he knew that Stack was the man for the job. After kicking the idea around for a couple of years, Stack took a leap and moved to the coast to become Jarrett Bay’s vice president of administration and development.
At Jarrett Bay, Stack worked with a team to develop a clothing line that grew out of the company’s popular t-shirts featuring their boats. While his textile training helped to some extent, even more critical to launching this new initiative were his textile connections from NC State.
“The first thing I did was started calling all the people in the industry that I had known since college,” Stack said. “Calling on those people and really harkening back to the textile days is what got us rolling.”
In addition to developing the clothing line with retail stores in Beaufort and Raleigh, Stack is president of Jarrett Bay Marine Industrial Park, a 175-acre industrial park on the Intercoastal Waterway, which is home to Jarrett Bay Boatworks. Every aspect of building or repairing luxury boats is contained in the park, from the granite counter tops to the Caterpillar engines. Stack is also engaged in other ways to extend the Jarrett Bay brand and just debuted Jarrett Bay Home, a line of furniture, at the High Point Market in April.
Giving Back to the Pack
Twenty-five years after Stack graduated from NC State, his relationship with the university is alive and well. He attends Wolfpack sporting events whenever he gets the chance, sits on the Alumni Association’s Board of Directors and keeps close ties with classmates and fraternity brothers. Stack also gives back financially to the university and college that shaped him. A scholarship recipient himself, Stack sees private giving as vital to families in North Carolina and to NC State’s future.
“So many of the projects, the buildings, the professorships, the scholarships wouldn’t be there were it not for normal people donating,” Stack said. “I can tell you it made a huge difference for me and for my parents to have the opportunity to have scholarship support.”